The Georgia Forestry Commission is harvesting approximately 44 acres of pine trees on Highway 53 near the Etowah River, due to trees reaching their maturity and to generate revenue for the agency.
The trees were ready to be cut, said GFC Forester Tony Page. The trees in that area had a lot of damage from a bad ice storm 14 or 15 years ago. The tops were busted out, and they were in pretty bad shape.
Trees near the river had also reached 19-20 inches in diameter, which is over the maximum size for many timber mills in the state. The ideal size for milling is 16-inches, Page said.
Theyre being hauled to Warm Springs to a Georgia-Pacific plywood mill because theyre one of the few that can handle trees that big, Page said. Those trees were only 30 years old, and they reached maturity really fast.
Located across from Uncle Shucks Corn Maze and adjacent to the river, the commission owns 34 acres of flat land and 10 acres on top of an adjacent hill.
We have maintained a 100-foot buffer beside the Etowah River as were required to do by law, Page said.
Trees were sold to the highest bidder, but Page said he did not know how much the sale generated.
I didnt handle the sale, he said, but I know they were sold to a buyer in a lump-sum sale that had been advertised. Several timber buyers were on the list, and we had 45 days to accept bids. We accept the bid from whoever offers the most money.
The commission also harvests trees when revenue is needed.
The forestry commissions needs to generate revenue this time of year, Page said. Revenue normally goes into the commissions budget.
An acre produces 60-80 truckloads of timber, or about 160 tons, Page said.
Pine stumpage prices per ton as of April were saw timber: $22.50, Chip-n-saw: $18, pulpwood $10. Hardwood stumpage prices were: mixed hardwood saw timber $32; pulpwood $10, according to Timber Mart-south.com. Prices are approximate and fluctuate with the market.
Wendy Burnett, director of public relations with the commission, said the area on Highway 53 will eventually be burned and replanted with trees.
Well do a controlled burn to get the soil ready for replanting, Burnett said. We dont know when that will happen yet and were not sure what type of trees will be replanted.
Of Georgias 37 million acres of land, 24.4 million acres are timberland available for commercial use more than any other state in the nation, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission;
Fifty-six percent are privately owned; 25 percent are corporate; 10 percent are forest industry, and 9 percent are publicly owned;
The forest industry provides an average $448 million in state tax revenues each year;
Georgias timberlands grow 19 million tons more wood each year than is harvested, resulting in growth exceeding removals by 38 percent;
With two out of every three raindrops falling in Georgia landing on forest lands, the forests are one of the most significant factors affecting the state water quality and quantity.